Sunday, September 26, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #18

I tried to think of a catchy intro... actually I focused on that for about half of the time I was writing this e-mail!

This last week has been pretty good here in the office. We've had alot of work, but one can't complain too much... after all it is work, and I knew that coming into the mission. As far as the sector goes, it looks like we're still going to be pretty dry for this weekend, but we've got high hopes and lots of faith in October!

The festivities of the 18 de Septiembre were pretty fun... We as a district were able to hit up Santiago Centro on P-day and we had a blast, it would have to be one of the most fun preparation days that I’ve had in a long time. When we first headed to the center we had absolutely no idea what we were going to do there, so we decided to see what was going on and grab a quick bite to eat. While we were eating at one of the completo stand things we saw, basically, a stampede of Chileans start running from the Plaza de Armas down one of the side streets. Elder Johns of course jumped right in there and was eager to run with them knowing nothing of why everyone was running. Elder Barrett and Elder Moore joined them as Elder Young and I finished eating and waited a minute to see what was going on. The excitement of it all pushed us to run as well and before we knew it everyone within sight was not only running, but jumping as high as possible to snatch what appeared to be bookmarks flying through the air. Turns out, it being the bicentennial celebration of Chile, the Chilean Air Force was dropping papelitos with quotes and statements about Chilean history from aircraft flying above Santiago. At the very same moment the same thing was happening over the other 14 regional capitals of Chile. It got pretty intense, but Elder Young and I decided to stay on the edge of the crowd to avoid getting trampled… turns out we got a pretty good haul with the bookmarks, bringing in about 30 each from running all over about 4 city blocks! We then decided to head to La Moneda, the Chilean Whitehouse one could say (the president doesn’t live there though), and check out the setup for the late night light show they were doing over the weekend. The setup was pretty sweet, but nothing was going on at mid-day. Also we were able to visit the museum located below La Moneda and see a little bit of the Chilean culture at its best. The day was wrapped up with heading back to the house, resting for about 10 minutes, studying, and heading out to work a little bit.

Unfortunately national holidays aren't too effective to do proselyting work, but Monday was a very mellow day here in the office with everyone still recovering from their long weekend. Also Tuesday was pretty chill as far as business as well, especially as far as missionaries go because there were enjoying their P-day.

So I'm pretty stoked about General Conference this next weekend... We will of course be attending all of the sessions which will take away from our P-day time. President May hasn't told us much about if our P-day schedule is going to change or not, but a few of the office elders that were here in April said that P-day was moved to Monday... so don't neccessarily expect a letter on Saturday, but y'all are more than welcome to write me any day of the week (every once in a while we have to check our personal mail accounts to make sure President hasn't sent us something important)!

I was able to do my second baptismal interview on Thursday night. It wasn't quite as rough as the first one because I knew exactly what to expect. So Circunvalación 2 will be baptizing Camila (10) this Sunday, it ought to be great.

I almost forgot to tell you about the activity that we had last night in our condominiums... Elder Moore and I, with a little help from the other office elders and the assistants, organized a movie night here in our condominiums. We kinda did it all a little last minute and ran into a few problems as we went, such as the sudden increase in wind, the sudden drop of temperature, and of course the lack of extension cords of a decent length here in Chile. If we had been in Texas we would have had two 100 foot extension cords within about 30 seconds, but here we had about three 4 foot long extension cords within about 40 minutes!!! (We are in Chile!!!) Finally one of the recent converts that just moved from Conchalí 14 to our ward saved the day with a 30 meter long extension cord that he borrowed from his uncle. All in all we had a decent turn out at the movie night, watching first "Finding Faith in Christ" and afterwards "The Testaments". We are hoping that a few new investigators come from this... I know there is at least one probable new investigators as I basically taught Lesson 1 to here during the movie!!! Hopefully we can do it again pretty soon with another movie and get a few more people involved.

Compared to my usually boring letters I'm pretty impressed with what I've gotten written today! Hopefully it will give you a little bit better light on how crazy the mission really is. I really do love it here! And the office is great, yes it is hard to not baptize sometimes, but we are working hard to do so!!! I was speaking with President May the other day and he was asking how the office experience was for me. I answered him that I really do enjoy it, perhaps I don't have as many baptisms here as I would in a normal sector, but I'm getting a little bit different type of experience working here.

I love this work and all of the blessings it has brought in my life. I'm excited to see Ryan getting ready to leave on the mission! Hopefully he gets his call pretty soon so it doesn't eat him up waiting to find out where the Lord would have him go. Keep me posted as far as that news goes.

The house seems to be coming along fairly nicely. I can't wait to see more pictures when you can get them to me (and OF THE FAMILY), and I can't wait to see the finished project. Also I did get my package!!! I opened the outer package and saw the wrapping on almost everything so I decided to wait until Monday to open all of that. The Skittles however did not make it through the end of the week, they weren't wrapped up so I figured they were fair game... LOL. The only thing about international shipping is that it has the dumb little customs label on it, so it gives the whole surprise away every time! But either way, I'm excited to see what's inside!!! I might even get to use it on Monday...

Say "HI" to everyone for me... especially Dillon since he told y'all to write it (he knows he can write me, right?). And send my love to the Stovall family!!!

Hope that y'all have a great week and that y'all enjoy General Conference from the comforts of home!!! (Blah!!!). Love y'all and talk to y'all next week!!!


-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #17

¡Feliz 18 de Septiembre!

Today is the 200 year celebration of the independence of Chile... se llama la Fiesta Patria! We are all pretty excited to have our P-day today and see what kind of fun we can get into. Unfortunately tonight will be fairly limited as far as the amount of proselyting we can do, unless of course we want to talk to a lot of borachos. Yesterday we had a fairly lengthy activity to celebrate la Fiesta Patria in our ward. It started about 11:00 AM (with people getting there finally around 12:30 PM... you've got to take into account Mormon Standard Time thrown on top of Chilean Time), and ended about 6:00 PM... all in all it was fairly short compared to most of the ward/stake parties in the area.

My first and only 18 de Septiembre in Chile is currently underway... so far it doesn't look like there is a whole variety of activities available for us today, so I'm not sure what we'll be doing for P-day. Lots of times it kinda sucks to have P-day on a national holiday... everything is closed today so we can't even hit up the mall for food.

This week has been fairly laid back. Fortunately I haven't had any big deadlines and I've been able to get on top of almost all of my work, let's hope this next week proves to allow the same thing. Monday will be a pretty relaxed day in the office since all of Chile will still be on vacation for the holiday weekend, but Tuesday we'll kick back into full swing!

September 11th went well, we entered the house at 8:00 PM and just hung out with all of the missionaries in the condominiums for a couple hours. We were told the next day that it got a little crazy right around midnight with all of the jovenes hanging out in the street and building bonfires in front of the apartment buildings. All in all it was pretty chill though, and as far as I know there wasn't anything super crazy or exciting that went down. Also the cemetery was pretty cool, it is HUGE!!!... and a little bit creepy. I'll try to get some pictures out to y'all pretty soon, the architecture there is amazing. And you know how I am about architecture! If it didn't know that I was going to be a doctor or that I needed to be a doctor I might consider architecture or something similar.

Work and everything sounds pretty stressful... unfortunately it is about the same here in the mission too, with missionaries who can't really behave themselves. It is also good to hear that Lufkin won again, they are undefeated right now if I'm not mistaken, right?

So Gabe got a new calling? I was looking on the new website and it has listed all of the leadership of the ward, I didn't see his name on the list of Elder's Quorum teachers and was wondering what was up. Mom, are you still working in the family history center too? And is Gabe taking over my work I was doing with the family geneology, or is he just there? Sounds like everybody elses callings are doing great, Dad with High Council, and Ryah with president of the Laurels.

I'm kinda tired of not hearing from Gabe and Ryah... even when I send letters they don't respond. If I didn't know better I'd think they were happy I was gone.

¡Felicitaciones a Scott y Amanda! This was the first I had heard of that, since Gabe never sends me news and stuff like that. I feel so out of the loop now, compared to how it was at the beginning of my mission when everyone was still letting me know every little tidbit of information. I'm going to run into a technology and a news overload when I get back and I'm able to get connected back to the outside world!!!

This last week was kinda tough in the Gospel sharing category. Fortunately for us last night went very well! We were in interchanges so I was not able to be in my sector, but Elder Moore and Elder Barrett were able to teach 3 lessons with members present and find a family of 3 new investigators who are all planning on going to church on Sunday (tomorrow). Also I was able to do my first baptismal interview as district leader (first ever) for an 11 year-old investigator in Circunvalación 2 who will be baptized this Sunday. His name is Alfonso and he is ready!!! I was kinda worried at first, but the whole process went very well. I was sweating bullets but we both came out of the interview and he still wanted to be baptized, so that worked out very well. I think I was more nervous about the interview than he was!!!

So like I said I'm going to work on sending out some pictures in the next little bit. Sorry my letter seems short, everytime I write it seems like I write less and less! I love y'all and miss y'all! You've just got to hang in there for a little over 11 months!

¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #16

Buenos Días USA!

Today is September 11th, a day of significance for the USA and for Chile... it is interesting to me however the difference in the reasons that they are significant. In the US today there is a feeling of respect for the lives lost on the 11th of September, 2001. In Chile there is a sense of worry and preoccupation, this day marks the beginning of the political overthrow that came with Pinochet in the year 1970. It is hard for me to believe how one day can have such significance for so many people, but is such different ways.

Please don't worry about our safety here in Chile, everything is fine... the Area Presidency and President May have coordinated to keep all of the missionaries safe, especially here in the Santiago area, thus we have been instructed to avoid large public areas/government buildings (where there are possible problems) and we will be entering the house at 8:00 tonight (at the latest). The only thing that is likely to happen is that we will be without power for a while, because the "flaites" have a tendency to cut it to celebrate...

Enough of that... Last weeks Labor Day barbecue was alright. Even with 3 Eagle Scouts present we had to have the help of a Chilean to get the grill (charcoal) going well enough to cook the churipan. So our P-day last week was pretty chill. Today we have plans to go check out the National Cemetery here in Santiago, close to the location of the new mission office... the idea randomly came to Elder Moore and I last night, so hopefully that will be a pretty interesting event/learning experience. Turns out that this cemetery has rumors to be haunted (but we are going during the day) and is where all of the former presidents of Chile, except one, are buried. Ought to be cool!!!

Overall this week was pretty laid back, a few deadlines came up as usual but everything went of without a hitch. I was in training meetings for a lot of the week with the new information coming down from Salt Lake, so that took me out of the office for almost 2 whole days, but it's all good. The office is still alive and kicking! (For now...) I'm actually enjoying being here quite a bit. Even when it is hard I know that what I'm learning here will eventually pay off.

Thanks for the pictures and stuff, it was good to be able to see a little bit of the progress with the house. Those two things are pretty big steps. Are y'all planning on painting the stairs white or doing the clear-coat thing on them? I know the runner will be in the middle, but I'm trying to visualize it but I can't remember... Also I have broken out the plum jelly and it is almost gone. I wasn't sure what to think at first, cause it wasn't coming out of a package and it had a decent flavor, but I soon became accustomed to it and I'm loving it now!!! LOL.

Try your best to hold on to everything pretty tight with all of the hurricane/tropical storm activity. You know it isn't a good sign when you are in the second week of September and a storm beginnning with the letter "I" is already brewing out in the deep. Looks like it is going to be a pretty active season! Whatever you do, just hang tight!!!

As far as the work this week... We've been able to find 2 new investigators this last week (a mother and daughter), the mother has previously shared with missionaries and was almost baptized. She stated the other day that she knows that the Church is true but that she wasn't baptized, nor will she be, because she doesn't want to drive a wedge between her brothers and sisters. Two of her sisters are LDS already, but one of her brothers is a Catholic priest, unfortunately he wasn't to happy about her decision to be baptized and started a fight with one of the LDS sisters... turns out she wasn't baptized and says that she won't be, but we'll see what happens. You've gotta love the people who just don't understand how the Gospel works! Carlos is still just hanging in there, we are waiting for him to stop smoking and will be focusing on that a little more this week. The Peruvians don't feel like they are ready, but already have all of the teachings they need. Our focus this week with them will be to help them realize the blessings that they are postponing by not receiving this baptism. I know we can't push them, but it is our duty to help make sure that they really understand how important this is.

Not too much exciting happening down here. We're still hanging in there for now!!! So no worries in that department. Hope all is well at home and everyone is doing alright! Love you all and miss y'all bunches!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #15

¡Buenos Días al Northern Hemisphere!

Happy almost Labor Day to everyone in the great nation of the USA!!! We here in the mission office are taking advantage of the US holiday today and are having our first annual (and possibly last) Labor Day barbecue! We're all pretty stoked about it!

The temperatures here are starting to get a little bit warmer, but we had a pretty good cold snap and some wet weather on Wednesday and Thursday. The weather here can't figure out what it wants to do either... I'm actually starting to feel like I'm in East Texas weather again. Hopefully all continues to go well in regards to the hurricane season. We don't want y'all gettin' too wet up there!!!

I'm super excited to see the house! Did Ryah's floors already get the checker-board print done or just the white? Either way, it sounds like a lot got done on this long weekend and that y'all should be in pretty soon. Right??? Hopefully... LOL.

The ward seems like it continues changing, with more move-outs and move-ins. I'm pretty certain that I'm going to come back to a lot of people that I have no idea who they are. Also, how are the couple of future missionaries doing with their preparation (especially Ryan Whitworth)?

I was able to get on the online banking website, and to answer the question about Subway... yes, I did make the same transaction twice (someone else didn't money for lunch). It will be pretty helpful for me to keep an eye on the account, but either way I don't want y'all to take your guard down about it either.

I feel like all of my statements up until this point have been little 1-2 line responses to a few questions or comments on something y'all have said... LOL. Oh well!

So I'm still not really used to writing on Saturdays. In any other part of the mission we get to write just after our week has finished and fill everyone in on what happened over the weekend (aka baptisms, people in church, etc.). We've got to wait almost a whole week and then have more news the next day!!! I'll live I guess... But, last weekend we had 5 investigators in church for the first time in a long time, As an office we had 12! Carlos went and has stopped smoking (for the most part) this week, hopefully he'll get his act completely together and stop all together so he can be baptized next weekend. Also a Peruvian family we are teaching went to church and absolutely loved it. Sonia, her daughter Kimberly, and her sister Susan all went and stayed for the first 2 hours of church, Sacrament Meeting and Gospel Principles. Kimberly was able to stay for all three hours and was super excited about the Primary (she's 8). When her mom and aunt left she begged them to be able to stay, it was so cute! They've got to be the best investigators, as far as commitment and preparedness goes, that I've had. Kimberly during the week has been working to fulfill an assignment from her Primary teachers to learn the 11th Article of Faith, we passed by yesterday and she already has it memorized... along with her mom and aunt... AND they all memorized the first 3 or 4 Ariticles of Faith as well. Last night I decided to put myself to the test against them with the Articles of Faith in Spanish and they all kicked my trash!!! It was pretty fun though to get beat out by a couple of investigators of just under a month!!!

Here in El Cortijo, the office zone (with 3 full-time proselyting companionships), we are going to have a month of white this month (September). We're looking fairly good so far with the probability of 4 baptisms this month and a few more possible baptisms (a lot depends on church tomorrow)! We are all super excited about the success we've been having and we look forward to more as the month goes on!

The office is still kicking as usual... I'm still fighting against a few upcoming deadlines with almost no time to finish everything, but it will work out alright!!! The life of an office missionary is not easy, but I'm pretty sure learning to balance everything now will work out to our advantage pretty well in life after the mission.

I love this work with all my heart... and I strive daily to put all my heart, might, mind, and strength into what I do. Sometimes I fall a little short, but that doesn't keep me from getting back up and trying again. I love you all and hope that y'all can find the same happiness in sharing the Gospel that I have in these 12 & 1/2 months!!!

Love y'all and hope all is well at home!!! Send me pictures!!! Please!!!

¡Todo mi amor! y ¡muchos besitos!

-- Élder Todd